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  1. #1
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    Nighttime commuting....

    My work schedule switched to nights and I was wondering if anyone has any advice for nighttime commuting. I have the lights and I will get a reflective vest and wear the brighter colors.....is there anything else anyone can think of I may have missed?

  2. #2
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    My 10 mile commute is at 5 am, most of which is on major roads.
    I use a 1000 lumen LuminTrek handlebar light, a seat post light (Planet Bike Superflash), another Superflash on my backpack and another flashing light on the back of my helmet (planet bike "Blinky 3H). Also I have a green "SpokeLit LED light" on each wheel for lateral visibility. The cost is:
    LuminTrak = $100, 2-Super flash= $70, Blinky 3H = $25, 2-SpokeLit = $40, plus batteries = less than $5/month.
    I am really lit up! People have laughed and yelled out to me that I look like a Christmas tree.
    I was hit by a car about 10 years ago because they did not see me. This is will not happen now, because I am blazing!
    I have been commuting by bike for 15 years, averaging between 3000 to 4000 miles per year.
    Spend the money for lights, you will be safer and feel much more confident that drivers see you.
    On the plus side, there is way less traffic at night. Enjoy.
    The truth will set you free... But first it will piss you off

  3. #3
    I Ride for Donuts
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    ^^ I find that people generally give me more room at night. People respect lights. It's weird.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  4. #4
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    Find safe alternate routes, if possible. Depending on the area (city, close to bars, etc) riding at night on/near weekends can get sketchy if you're dealing with a lot drunk drivers.
    Oh noes. I'm going to drink the Kool-Aid.

  5. #5
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    Good suggestions already. And yes, night riding seems safer (less traffic, less aggressive traffic, and more courtesy) if you avoid close proximity to bars.

    Carry redundant lights. Small flashlight(s) to get you home if you have a headlight failure. Or separate helmet and front lights so if one goes out, you are OK. Double or triple rear lights so if one dies, falls off, or self shuts off, your butt is covered. There is some debate about this, but my experience suggests at least one read light should be on steady mode to help divers determine your distance and speed. Also don't forget reflective tape and devices, but remember they only work well when you are in the car's headlight beams (about 1-2 seconds form being directly in front of a cross street driver. The reflectors on pedals or reflective ankle straps show approaching traffic in either direction that you are a cyclist, and what you cadence is (hell bent for leather or coasting).

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tan&Green View Post
    I have the lights and I will get a reflective vest and wear the brighter colors....
    describe your light setup. I see a lot of people riding the streets at night with "lights" but they are pathetic little lights with low batteries that I can barely see until I am almost on top of them. As a driver, I hate passing people with crappy illumination.

    I like having two tail lights- one blinking and one steady. same for the front- one BRIGHT, steady light that illuminates the road in front of me so I can see where I am going, and one small blinky light to get drivers' attention.

    also, there is such a thing as "too much light." if the lights are blinding and annoying, they are just going to piss off drivers.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tan&Green View Post
    My work schedule switched to nights and I was wondering if anyone has any advice for nighttime commuting. I have the lights and I will get a reflective vest and wear the brighter colors.....is there anything else anyone can think of I may have missed?
    Re evaluate your route and potential changes....to make it safer for nighttime riding.

  8. #8
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    Use a combination of bright lights and reflective gear/tape on the bike. I think running individual lights that have more than a few hundred lumens is overkill, but running multiples of them (so you can have a steady one and a blinking one at the same time, or one on the bike and one on the helmet, for example) is not a bad idea. I run two taillights - my brighter one on the bike, and a lighter, dimmer one attached to the back of my helmet. I was liberal with the reflective tape on my pannier boxes (lots of surface area to work with). I also have lights and reflective area on my wheels. my rims are reflective (not blazingly so, but every little bit helps), and I have a bright green reflector in the spokes, in addition to a blinky. That rotation helps people identify you as a bike from the side.

    I also am given way more space at night than during the day.

  9. #9
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    I have a bright lights on my bars and on my helmet. I use the helmet light in a flashing mode and two superbright blinkies on the back. I dress in reflective gear (vest, reflectors, big reflector on my bag, etc). I also always use a mirror on the road. I feel safer as it helps me keep an eye on what's coming up behind me.

    As far as route, mine are pretty good, traffic-wise. I use mild traffic routes. Some with good bike lanes. Most drivers seem pretty respectful of giving space when passing with all my gear on.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    describe your light setup. I see a lot of people riding the streets at night with "lights" but they are pathetic little lights with low batteries that I can barely see until I am almost on top of them. As a driver, I hate passing people with crappy illumination.

    I like having two tail lights- one blinking and one steady. same for the front- one BRIGHT, steady light that illuminates the road in front of me so I can see where I am going, and one small blinky light to get drivers' attention.

    also, there is such a thing as "too much light." if the lights are blinding and annoying, they are just going to piss off drivers.
    I have the Niterider 700 as my steady front and a smaller front blinking light. On the rear I have a blinking rear light and a steady rear light. I also have a blinking light attached to my backpack.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    ^^ I find that people generally give me more room at night. People respect lights. It's weird.
    I know right? I use a 500 mW Cree flashlight on strobe on my helmet that I use when riidng at night. In fast moving traffic, I put it on backwards on strobe and I noticed no cars are tailgating harassing me.

  12. #12
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    Might also want to invest in a pair of yellow tinted lens's or, yellow tinted glasses. The color tint will bring more light to your eyes, which will improve your vision at night. Also want to allow a little extra time on the commute, since you're not gonna see all the hazards on the road as well as daylight.
    The ridiculousness of cycling clothes increase exponentially in relation to the distance from your bicycle.

  13. #13
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    My 12.5 mile "work" commute starts at 2130 and my "home" commute starts at 0700 so needless to say, a good portion of the year I'm riding in the dark. All of the advice concerning lights and reflective gear in this thread is very good. My preferred route has roadways with really wide shoulders so I can give the cars as much space as possible. Some will argue about "taking the lane" and such but this isn't day time riding. My success in NOT getting run over to this point would seem to validate this philosophy.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by junior1210 View Post
    Might also want to invest in a pair of yellow tinted lens's or, yellow tinted glasses. The color tint will bring more light to your eyes, which will improve your vision at night. Also want to allow a little extra time on the commute, since you're not gonna see all the hazards on the road as well as daylight.
    Hey Junior1210....I never thought about the yellow lense glasses and I have a pair at the house and I has to admit, it makes a heck of a lot of sense!!!! I will definitely have to try them out at night!!! Thank you!!!

  15. #15
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    Yellow lenses are great for contrast in low-light situations, like riding in the trees. But I put mine away for night rides.

    When it's actually dark, they just make it darker. Even if they have 85% visible light transmission, if it's actually nighttime I want to get all the light I can.

  16. #16
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    In my experience, I see better with the yellow tint lenses than clear lenses (I wear glasses all the time) when riding at night. I also keep both types with me just in case.
    The ridiculousness of cycling clothes increase exponentially in relation to the distance from your bicycle.

  17. #17
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    Interestingly the yellow-tint issue has had some discussion/controversy as it relates to night driving:

    Laramy-K Optical - Wholesale Uncut and Coating Lab |
    /resources/education/dispensing/the-dangers-of-night-driving-glasses/

  18. #18
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    I tried orange once, and it was horrible. I hate riding without glasses, and since I forgot my clears at home, I opted for the orange. Bad idea. Made everything really dark. I might try the yellow out, as I really like those during the day as well. I broke my last pair and haven't found a suitable replacement yet.
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  19. #19
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    I get a lot of compliments on my spoke lights. I went with blue because the only other blue lights on the road are cop cars.

    I've read that blue is illegal in some states, but really who's gonna enforce that? Just play dumb and take em off if it turns out to be an issue. Also better a ticket than a hospital bill.

  20. #20
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    If you are planning to run any kind of flashing light on the front (in the dark), make sure it is a low intensity light. Some of the high intensity lights are not only annoying to drivers, they are distracting and can make for a very dangerous situation. Something that bright might get their attention, but they will not be blind and not able to pay attention to anything else around them. They are fine and sometimes necessary during daylight to draw the attention of drivers, but the contract from daylight to the higher intensity light isn't nearly as bad as at night.

    As a cyclist myself and frequent night time rider, I still almost managed to run over another biker a couple years ago. Not the one with the super bright flashing light coming at me but another biker that was much closer to me that I couldn't see because I was too distracted by the bright flashing light and lost just about all contrast nearby.

  21. #21
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    I, too am an all-time glasses wearer, and find that yellow lenses at night (a very light tint, mind you, about 90% light transmission) are quite nice, and don't interfere at all. They work nicely during the winter days and under tree cover, as well.

    Incidentally, good for all-day computing, as well.

  22. #22
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    Could never get used to the yellow glasses at night, I stick with clear.

    I also avoid front flashers, not because of motorist-blinding but because it gives ME a headache to have the road ahead of me flashing like a strobe. I used two regular MS808 600-lumen headlights at half power, the left-biased one angled down a bit.

  23. #23
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    Definitely agree with the need for "active" lighting. Light colored and retro-reflective clothing is a good idea, but you CANT rely on it as your primary mode of being seen at night.

    In urban/suburban areas, drivers use low beam headlights. A well known shortcoming of low beam's is that the amount of forward light they produce is not adequate for a driver to see an object, identify it, and bring the vehicle to a stop before reaching(hitting) it. The worst case of this occurs with animals like deer or moose, who's fur reflects back almost no light. Lots of them get hit, to devastating effect. As a cyclist, you need to advertise your presence and you need an active light source to do that. Also, for your passive light sources (reflectors...) these appear best if they are in motion, like your feet on the pedals, or stripes up your pant leg. People more readily identify that as a person in motion verses a driveway marker or a traffic cone.

    Buy lots of lights, and send the extra's to a Canadian moose!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by minte View Post
    Definitely agree with the need for "active" lighting. Light colored and retro-reflective clothing is a good idea, but you CANT rely on it as your primary mode of being seen at night.
    To paraphrase the authority on the subject, reflective gear is reliant on the driver having proper headlighting, among other things.

    And any cyclist who relies on a driver to do anything right... must be new here.

    Quote Originally Posted by minte View Post
    Buy lots of lights, and send the extra's to a Canadian moose!
    I had a moose that probably weighed more than my car run out in front of me on Highway 60 a few years back. I stopped easily, because I had been driving at all of 50kph. Anyone who's going 80+, at night, on those roads, in anything smaller than a tractor-trailer, is out of their friggen minds.

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